It’s Time (Part 2)
April 25, 2021
In 1940, Japan formed an alliance with Axis powers Germany and Italy, to the dismay of Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander-in-chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet. He protested the alliance without success and then set about the task of preparing for what he perceived as an inevitable war with the United States.
In that same year, other Japanese planners evaluated the strength of Japan and the US and determined that “The United States had more steel, more wheat, more oil, more factories, more shipyards, more of nearly everything than the Empire…[Further] the industrial capacity of the United States was 74 times greater, and that it had 500 times more oil [than Japan].” Yamamoto’s task seemed insurmountable. But he devised a plan — to hit the US “in the chest” — with a bold attack at Pearl Harbor. “Japan, as the smaller power, must settle it ‘on its first day’ with a strike so breathtaking and brutal that American morale ‘goes down to such an extent that it cannot be recovered.’”
And so he attacked, launching 183 airplanes from his aircraft carriers in the first wave of the attack and then following that with 170 more plans in a second attack. The devastation on Pearl Harbor was brutal —
By the end, 19 U.S. ships lay destroyed or damaged, and among the 2,403 Americans dead or dying were 68 civilians. Nothing as catastrophically unexpected, as self-image-shattering, had happened to the nation in its 165 years. “America is speechless,” a congressman said the next day, as the smell of smoke, fuel and defeat hovered over Pearl. Long-held assumptions about American supremacy and Japanese inferiority had been holed as surely as the ships. “With astounding success,” Time wrote, “the little man has clipped the big fellow.” The Chicago Tribune conceded, “There can be no doubt now about the morale of Japanese pilots, about their general abilities as fliers, or their understanding of aviation tactics.” It was now obvious the adversary would take the risks that defied American logic and could find innovative ways to solve problems and use weapons. The attack was “beautifully planned,” [Admiral] Kimmel would say, as if the Japanese had executed a feat beyond comprehension.
Why was Japan so successful on that initial attack against America? Historian Steve Twomey writes:
Although the disaster destroyed the careers of both the Navy and the Army commanders on Oahu, exhaustive investigations made it clear that its causes went beyond any individual in Hawaii or Washington, D.C. Intelligence was misread or unshared. Vital communiqués were ambiguous. Too many search planes had been diverted to the Atlantic theater.
Most devastating, Americans simply underestimated the Japanese. Their success at Pearl Harbor was due partly to astounding good luck, but also to American complacency, anchored in two assumptions: that our Asian adversary lacked the military deftness and technological proficiency to pull off an attack so daring and so complicated, and that Japan knew and accepted that it would be futile to make war on a nation as powerful as the United States.
The inherent power and strength of America seemed to make its defenses impenetrable. We seemed ready. But we weren’t. And we paid a tremendous price for our presumption and unpreparedness.
The account of Pearl Harbor serves as an allegory for our spiritual lives. Because we have believed in Christ as our Savior, we are tempted to presume we need nothing more; we are safe. And if we are in Christ, our eternal destiny is secure. There is nothing that might rip us out of the protective hand of God. Yet, there is something more that we have been called to do; we have a calling to act on our salvation — to pursue sanctification, to live out the reality of what we are in Christ.
In Paul’s terminology in Romans 13, we can say that some of us have fallen asleep and have been inattentive to the need to act intentionally and aggressively to pursue sanctification. As we consider the timing of the Lord’s return — His soon and imminent return — we say with Paul, it’s time for us to act. When we consider what we are in Christ and Christ’s goal for us, we cannot be apathetic about our salvation. We need to act on our salvation and pursue transformation. In Romans 13:11-14 Paul says —
It is time to intentionally act on the salvation we have been given.
It is time to aggressively pursue sanctification. In these verses, Paul calls us to three actions and provides us one extended motivation for our actions. Last time we considered the first action and the motive for acting; this morning we look at the final two calls to action.
- It’s Time to Do Something (v. 11a)
- Why We Should Take Spiritual Action (vv. 11b–12a)
- It’s Time to Put Off Sinful Deeds (vv. 12b, 13, 14b)
- The principle stated (v. 12b)
- The principle applied to particular sins (v. 13)
- The principle summarized (v. 14b)
- It’s Time to Put on Christ’s Armor (v. 12c, 14a)
- The principle stated (v. 12c)
- The principle applied to one particular desire (v. 14a)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 13:11-14 (Pt 2).
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.